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Blinken Vows to Urge Arab Countries to Normalize Ties With Israel

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Sept. 16, 2021.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday he would urge Arab countries to normalize ties with Israel.

Blinken spoke at a virtual gathering with officials from Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. The meeting was held on the first anniversary of U.S.-brokered diplomatic agreements reached last year known as the Abraham Accords.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said during the meeting he would visit Bahrain later this month, the first such visit by an Israeli minister to the country since the pacts were reached. He said the accords were open to new members as well.

U.S. President Joe Biden has supported the agreements brokered by former U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.

The Palestinians have perceived the deals as a betrayal because they further weakened a longstanding Arab position that recognition of Israel should be linked to progress toward the creation of a Palestinian state.

Senior Biden administration officials have said they want more Arab countries to normalize ties with Israel, but until Friday’s meeting, the administration had been reluctant to observe the anniversary of the agreements.

Blinken touted the deals and their economic benefits and said, “This administration will continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalization marching forward.”

The secretary of state said he would also help Israel develop better relations with Sudan, which reached a breakthrough with Israel last year, and Egypt and Jordan, countries with longstanding peace deals with Israel.

Some information in this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.